Archive for the ‘My Psalms’ Category

There is nothing quite like working with middle school students to garner a profound awareness for the power of rumors.  Unlike political America, there is seldom any fact-checking on a middle school campus. Unfortunately, what “they” say happened or will happen or might happen is frequently received as truth without question. As many of you may know, middle school students are developmentally equipped with a highly developed “emotional brain” combined with an under-developed “reasoning brain.” Translation: Their emotional brain will short circuit their reasoning brain and lead them into poor decisions and actions before they have thought it all through. All too often the consequences of their choices are not even considered until they are happening.  Therein lies the power and danger of “They Say.”  Below is an offering which paints an example of how this dynamic can play out. It represents the responsibility we have as parents, educators, and youth workers, to “train them up in the way they should go.” Social and Emotional Learning is everyone’s responsibility.  If I may wax cliche, “It takes a village to raise a child.”  (c:]

~Food For Thought

~Peace and Blessings…

joe

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THEY SAY

She said he said that they say it’s true.

Armed with this knowledge, I know what to do.

I recognize the face of this newfound foe.

We once were good friends; now, I’ll throw the first blow.

How dare he say what they say he said.

It’s all the reason I need to go bust his head.

They say she said he said this or that.

The details are sketchy with real shady facts.

But it makes no difference ‘cuz they say it’s true.

So, I’ll blindly give in to what they think I should do.

How will I look if I don’t stand up for what’s right?

So, I’ll settle this beef with a schoolyard fight.

What? He’s denying the words they say that he spoke!

What a big, fat liar! This guy’s a real joke!

“C’mon you big loser! What’s your play?

                    Defend all these words that they said you say!”

“I never said nuthin’.  It’s all a big lie!

Better check your facts. You got the wrong guy!”

          “But that just can’t be ‘cuz they ALL say it’s true;

          So, put up your dukes, fool, so I can pound you!”

So, I beat him down good for his supposed infraction.

I never once thought he would end up in traction.

Three broken bones and wounds to the head;

All for the words they say that he said.

This poem is inspired by and dedicated to an outstanding young woman named Kris Mejia.  It has been a joy and my privilege to sow into her life, along with others in her support group, and watch her humbly learn and apply the lessons of life.  These verses, though inspired by Ms.Mejia, also represent the numerous students I have the blessed privilege to work with on a daily basis; the students not born to privilege but who are possessed by the grit, desire, and determination to succeed in life.  You all are the reason I do what I do.  Thank you for inspiring me.  Keep dreaming.  You ARE the future!

~ Peace and blessings,

j

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A Sacred Place

Within these hallowed, golden walls, there are doors but not a ceiling;

Light breaks through stained glass panes to color dream’s revealing.

A single barrier stalls pursuit it confines by doubts and shrinking;

The only limit in this sacred place is the limit of one’s own thinking.

These walls are built by opportunity imagined but not obtained;

And hopeful risks of something ventured to render something gained.

Dreams are brick and hope is mortar and by faith they are firmly placed;

And by wise device of guided reason the bricks are evenly spaced.

The firm foundation and solid stone upon which the walls will rest;

Is one’s own purpose and meaning in life which evokes the living quest.

To dream the dreams which supply the bricks to build the hallowed halls;

And by faith and hope and reasoning, write the plans upon its walls.

Faith, hope, and reason are surely the place to start;

But to achieve one’s dreams they must combine with work and a willing heart.

To only dream is not enough and faith without works is vain;

With diligent hands and a resolute heart one avoids disgrace and pain.

So hope and dreams with faith and work with love for God and man;

Build the walls which contain the future and set to course the plan.

Within these hallowed, golden walls, there are doors but not a ceiling;

Light breaks through stained glass panes to color dream’s revealing.

Everthing is possible … I dare to dream large,

My doubts and fears fade … my passion’s in charge.

We’re all connected … I embrace everyone,

Own my life on the hundred … till the job is all done.

If it’s good or it’s bad … I’ll take it in stride,

An attitude of gratitude will humble my pride.

I’m livin’ by givin’ … that’s the best way to be,

To leave a mark on this world and to truly be free.

My time is now … not tomorrow or after,

If you say I can’t … my response will be laughter.

Not to mock or belittle but to let it be known,

Your doubts don’t faze me … my resolve is like stone.

Yeah, I’m chasing my dreams … I have no regrets.

Nothing can stop me or my seven mindsets.

I am deeply honored and privileged to be available and trusted by colleagues seeking guidance, counsel, and encouragement. Though my years in institutional church ministry are behind me, by God’s grace, His work continues in and through me in the work force; as it should be.  The plight of one colleague and friend (you know who you are) was the inspiration of the following poem. I am thankful these words were received as timely and healing. I am equally hopeful that they will have similar impact for someone out there. As long as we are living, we are all “work in progress.” 

~ Peace and blessings…

joe

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Now Remains The Dawn

Uncertainty assaults my peace…as I gasp for wisps of breath;

Crushed beneath oppressive weight…of questions and regret.

What ifs and second guessing…are my constant aggravation;

As nights are seized by sleeplessness…and soul interrogation.

I knew that life would not be easy…but I never fathomed this;

Though silver linings do avail…the darkened clouds persist.

Discouragement obscures the light…of youthful inclination;

While anxiety casts its long, cold, shadow…on hope’s anticipation.

I’ve dwelt too long in a mournful place…my dreams could not conceive;

But still convinced that threads of hope…will mend reality.

I’m clinging to the silver lining…that pines for my attention;

The catalyst that fuels my fight…to conquer this contention.

My youthful dreams, all but discarded…for approval of my peers;

While the seeds of acquiescence bears…the fruit of bitter tears.

But at this moment…eyes wide open…to the value I possess;

An epiphany and realization…birthed by great duress.

Refined by flames of consequence…my purpose now secure;

I’ll forge ahead with strength anew…and through the flames endure.

Choice has brought me to this point…and choice will lead me on;

I’m sure the darkest hour has passed…and now…remains… the Dawn.

dawn-dusk

Courtesy of Google Images

 

I saw him hungry with a sign in his hand…and brazenly stared at his empty tin can.

But I dared not look at him eye-to-eye…nor, venture a chat to ask him, “Why?”

Instead, I judged him and moved quickly along…humming the tune to an indifferent song.

I continued my stroll down Self-Righteous Way…thankful to God for another fine day.

Wondering what thing I might chance to start…to change the world and do my part.

When all of a sudden, I heard a son wailing…a frequent reaction to his father’s railing.

For striking out to end the game…the boy was coached by punishing shame.

But I dared not look at them eye-to-eye…nor, venture a chat to ask them, “Why?”

Instead, I stayed silent, though I felt cold chills…while I questioned and judged his parenting skills.

So I came to the corner of Mind Your Own Business…eyes wide open for a chance to witness.

Wondering what work I could take to heart…to change the world and do my part.

When I happened upon a desperate young girl…with plastic bags packed…alone in the world.

Thrown from her home for a near fatal habit…but my time was too valuable for this teenage addict.

I chanced a glance in her dark empty eyes…but my busy scheduled muffled their cries.

Surely, someone with time would happen along…to take up her cause and right her wrong.

Now, on to Avenue Prideful Defiance…where opinions are spewed with hatred and violence.

Still wondering what work I could undertake…to show this dark world my love is not fake.

A twenty-something woman was surrounded by critics…as she sobbed outside the abortion clinic.

They hurled insults and threats of gruesome hell fire…no inkling of care or thoughts to inquire,

What circumstance led to her tragic plight…or what trauma she’s battled through her emotional fight.

Treating others the way you’d like to be treated? …an aborted high principle…easily deleted.

Something indignant is stirring me now…at the end of the street called Holier-Than-Thou

I looked in their eyes disbelieving my own…they must be sinless…they’re all throwing stones.

From Slow to Speak and Slow to Wrath…its not a long haul to Judgmental Path.

Hypocrisy, there, is the rule of the day…Don’t see what I do, just hear what I say.

The words they spout are love and compassion…so often betrayed by self-righteous action.

Mercy on Sunday and Amazing Grace…are gone on Monday with seldom a trace.

This awareness moved me in a new direction…down a seldom used trail called Self-Reflection

If I truly want a good place to start…changing the world begins with my heart.

We Are Connected Assembly

Courtesy of Alina Felix

It was my blessing and pleasure to take part in this year’s first pep-assembly at Villago Middle School in Casa Grande, Arizona, today. Our theme was “We Are Connected” which is adapted from the book “The 7 Mindsets.”  These are the words I was inspired to write and given the privilege of delivering to 850 middle schoolers and their families and guests in attendance.  Thank YOU for taking the time to read them, as well.

~ Peace and blessings…

…joe

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Connected…

We…are connected … let me make this very plain;

Even though we’re all different … we’re really still the same.

Not our age, religion, or the house we live in;

The language we speak or the color of our skin.

Not the car we cruise … or the money we make;

Or a million different ways … people … can be fake.

Yeah, we’re all connected … by the REAL THINGS inside us,

Not the simple-minded pettiness that strives to divide us…

Or, the walls we build up … to protect us and hide us.

Choosing HATE over LOVE … is creating a virus.

We are connected … but, sometimes, it’s hard to see;

When we’re focused on ourselves, what’s mine, and just me!

While demanding our rights … we push others aside;

Display our true colors … and our self-serving pride.

We ARE connected … but until we accept it …

Hostility and hatred … can always be expected.

Yeah, we’re all connected … by the REAL THINGS inside us,

Not the simple-minded pettiness that strives to divide us…

Or, the walls we build up … to protect us and hide us.

When we choose HATE over LOVE … we’re INFECTED by the virus!

In the struggle of life … there is no greater sin,

Than fighting hatred WITH hatred … cuz then, hatred wins.

To counter this punch … love MUST be our choice,

To open up our hearts … and be equality’s voice.

So, get your eyes off the lies the NEWS has us seeing,

And focus on THIS … we’re ALL human beings!

So, open up your eyes to the BEAUTY inside us,

Not the meaningless pettiness that grinds and divides us;

Or the walls we build up … to protect us and hide us.

Choosing HATE over LOVE … infects us with the virus.

We … are connected … there’s great strength in numbers,

So, let your love and compassion … ARISE from their slumber.

Embrace every difference … cuz one MIGHT be…

The doorway to a future … you never could see.

You can learn from everybody … they know something you don’t.

The choice is up to you … you either will or you won’t.

We ARE … connected … we’re all human, for real;

We’re connected by life … and emotions we feel.

Happiness, joy, sorrow, and pain…

THEY’RE all colorblind … THEY see us the same.

But, being connected … gives us people to share…

Our joyful celebrations … or … the burdens we bear.

So, open up your eyes to the BEAUTY inside us,

Not the meaningless pettiness that grinds and divides us.

Cuz the love from above … is right here to guide us.

Choosing LOVE over HATE … is the CURE for the virus!

We ARE connected … despite hatred’s pollution,

if you embrace fifty people … you got fifty more solutions!

Instead of being judgmental … and pushing people away,

Open up your heart … and hear what they say.

We gain so much … from the WISDOM of others;

We’re the HUMAN RACE family … we’re all sisters and brothers.

So, open up your eyes to the BEAUTY inside us,

Not the self-centered judgment that grinds and divides us.

Cuz the love from above … is right here to guide us.

Choose LOVE over HATE … and DEMOLISH the virus!

WE … ARE … CONNECTED!

 

 

 

 

 

 

Recently, a dear friend and colleague lost her precious father to cancer.  I’m blessed to work with a pretty close knit bunch so, needless to say, although not to the same extent, her pain was also ours.  As I reflected on the many times she has shared with us about her special relationship with her dad, the words of this poem began to flow.  The fact that I have four daughters and three granddaughters helped me, I believe, to voice these words from a

Cancer

Courtesy of Google Images

father’s heart.  The fact that I have lost my precious mother-in-law to the ravages and relentlessness of cancer offers a second, unpleasant voice of experience along with a compassion to console those who are encountering the same.  To my joy and satisfaction, these words were received with heartfelt gratitude and appreciation.  And, now, with my friend’s permission I share them with you hoping they will offer some consolation or inspire some reflection as you face the losses, whatever they may be,  in your own life.

~ Peace and blessings…

joe

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Daddy’s Little Girl

There’s nothing quite like a girl and her dad…the bond just can’t be denied;

Through countless troubles and trials she’s had…he’s wiped every tear she has cried.

When all else fails, an immovable rock…He is constant and strong and sure;

Unconditional love measures his talk…his embrace gives her strength to endure.

Her childhood fears all melted away…in the protection of his arms;

Thoughts redirected by his loving sway…she was captured by his charms.

Sometimes he was quiet without a word…he refrained from any speaking,

But still he’d guide by the wisdom she heard… to the answers she’d been seeking.

His character and values are her constant guide…as she carves her way through this life;

But life can be hard so she sometimes hides…overwhelmed by hardships and strife.

In the comfort and solace of memories she ponds… she hears his loving voice;

Affirming so clearly the lessons so fond…directing her to a choice.

No, there’s nothing quite like a dad and his girl…the king on the throne of her heart.

No bond can compare in this whole wide world… no, nothing can keep them apart.

Come hell or high water, through all she’ll abide…for in her heart of hearts she knows;

Regardless of distance, his love’s by her side…no matter how far she goes.

Even in death he is close by and near…though gone from her physical touch;

But somehow joy erases the fear… ‘cause she knows he loved her much.

A lifetime of lessons and memories to sift…come crashing through her brain;

Each one a stair step which gently lifts…her grieving heart from pain.

And, now she daddys_girlponders while deep in thought…the blessing she knows as dad;

What he leaves behind can never be bought…he gave her all that he had.

For of titles, positions, and successes obtained…all coveted by this world;

No greater achievement for her can be gained…                                                  

                                                                           …than to be her Daddy’s Girl.